The group walk on North Dartmoor on Tuesday was our first experience of a ‘Chagwalk’. It was led by Alan Deacon, who had described the day as an eleven mile walk on good paths at a moderate pace.
We started well with a relatively easy path taking us from the parking at Scorhill to the White Moor stone and the small stone circle nearby. From there we headed up a gentle slope to Hound Tor and then beyond to Wild Tor. The skies were grey and cloudy, but with some glimpses of sunshine and no real rain. Wild Tor is just within the military range so is not always accessible but during August the whole of Dartmoor remains open for walkers.
At Hangingstone Hill we waited for everyone in the group to be together - from there it was then a short, but rather difficult walk across the boggy uneven moor to the Cranmere pool letter box . We were warned not to have high expectations of the ‘pool’; this is no place for wild swimming, just a small indentation in the moor, but the letter box is a reminder of the practice of ‘letterboxing’ started in the 1850s and a precursor to the Geocaching of today.
We then retraced our steps back to Hangingstone Hill for lunch. From here Meldon Hill looks insignificant and there are great views across the North of Dartmoor. Just a little further south is Whitehorse hill, site of an important prehistoric burial excavated in 2011. After lunch we carried on to find a peat pass, a track high up on the moor dug to make it easier for horses to be ridden over the moor. It was here that we missed the path to take us back down to cross the Teign and trace our way round to find Scorhill again. A decision was made to stick to the better paths, even if it meant a longer walk. By the time we walked below the deserted Teignhead farmhouse and could see the familiar shape of Kestor rock in the distance we were feeling rather weary. However, the huge advantages of walking as part of a group are that there are interesting people to chat to and the reassurance that you can’t really get lost when you are walking with people who have spent decades hiking on the Moor. The Group organise a local walk monthly, always on the 13th. We thoroughly recommend it to anyone in the area keen to get to know Dartmoor better.